Monday, 26 September 2022

An August Round Up.

 Hello , hello I’m trying to keep it to at least a monthly round up, better late than never eh?

 As it goes I didn’t get up to too much in August so this will be a very brief round up in terms of words but a bit bumper in terms of pics because I did promise to share some of my more recent purchases. 

I started the month meeting some friends for lunch. We were meeting at Liz’s house and as she is a very keen gardener (with the most stunning garden that I covert desperately), I decided to buy her a couple of plants instead of chocolates or some such. It was another super hot day that day, so I headed out in the morning to incorporate a bit walk around buying plants. Foolishly I wore the sandals I bought last year at the end of the Clarks sale and had therefore not worn for any length of time in any kind of heat. I'll save you the gory details, let’s just say by the time I got home, even with the addition of a plaster, one foot had been rubbed so badly it took many weeks to heal. This scuppered any further sandal wearing plans for this year. 

Anyway we had a fabulous afternoon, lounging in the shade of one of the apple trees in Liz's garden, eating and drinking far too much. Bliss. 

I also dragged Himself out for a walk to watch the August moon come up as it was the last super moon of the year. It was a gorgeous evening and we had an amazing view from the old railway line to Upton.

 Sadly my little camera was not up to the task of taking the kind of pictures that did the view justice, as  not only is it old and well used, it has never been good for night time pictures. I tried anyway though.


This was followed by another outing with Soo and our mutual friend Simon. Since Soo retired we three try to get together every 4-6 weeks for a catch up which usually involves eating and much drinking (we are unashamedly a bad influence on each other when it comes to the question of buying another round!) This time it was Simon’s choice of venue and he picked The Medley Bar at Port Meadow in Oxford. It started as a pop up bar on the banks of the Thames a couple of years ago and proved to be so popular they ended up making larger and semi-permanent.

Of course the day we had chosen to meet was another where the temperatures were due to hit a ridiculous 37 degrees, so we met in the morning to walk there before it got too hot. We arrived and found a free table under a huge tree right on the edge of the river, so we took up residence there for the next 5 hours. 

Because we are all grown adults, we did intersperse the alcohol with water and one of the delicious hand-made pizzas they cook on site. It was steadily busy with dog walkers, cyclists, runners, kayakers and wild water swimmers. I also loved the fact they were happy for the youngsters busy enjoying the summer holidays messing about in the river to come and use the toilets or get drinks of water.

I wore one of my birthday dresses. I was ordering some new undies on the M&S website when this dress caught my eye so I ordered it on impulse. I absolutely love it and it’s been blissful in the hot weather as it’s cool and floaty. 

I have worn it loads and even had a catastrophe when I got it tangled in the wheel of one of the office chairs at work and managed to rip a hole. I was gutted. Thankfully some careful mending with a matching coloured piece of plain cotton fabric and wonderweb means it has seen plenty of action since.   

We went to the cinema once to see the second Fisherman’s Friends film. 

As a film it has suffered from lockdown, as they started filming before and then had to try and do bits during and after so it’s quite disjointed. Having said that it’s still an uplifting feel good film and as ever Cornwall looks stunning. I tease Himself about how long it took me to get him to go there and he instantly fell in love, or actually, it seems was just going back to his roots. According to his family genealogy his ancestors were Cornish tin miners who headed to the North-East and became coal miners when times got tough in Cornwall.    

The end of August saw me going to Mum’s for the bank holiday and our annual trip to the Country Craft Fair at Stonor Park. Thankfully the weather was a little cooler, so we enjoyed sitting outside with a glass of prosecco planning how to rearrange some of the garden and playing with Bobby the cat. We got to Stonor at about 10.30am the next day and had a happy couple of hours browsing. I didn’t buy much; some greetings cards, a printing block, a little whale for my Christmas tree and some earrings.

From Stonor we went to my Mum’s local cafĂ© for lunch. I had a jacket potato with tuna which was insanely huge because the ladies know my Mum and just kept piling on the topping! We then drove to see Dad and I got home in time to spend a few hours with Himself’s sister and family who had called in on their way back to Devon from Legoland. It was lovely to see Nephew Number Two and The Little Miss in the flesh for the first time since lockdown. They have both got so tall!

The star earrings are the ones I bought at Stonor, the anchors and palm leaves came from the Collectif summer sale. I also treated myself to a couple of handbags


and a strawberry print dress.

Last post I mentioned handbags didn't I.

These  are all vintage purchases but I also bought this in the Accessorize sale because it reminded me of my favourite skirt from  the 80's!

Not the best pic, but I think the only one I have of me wearing it.
A few Erstwilder sale purchases...

Finally I had to return something to Marks and whilst there I spotted this bedding and couldn't grab it fast enough, I may even have squealed... 

So that’s August and a few of my recent purchases. 

Soon to follow our annual trip to Bournemouth and the thrills and spills that occurred there this year, and yes there were spills!

More anon.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

A July Round up of Sorts.

 Well since I last blogged the field I quite often walk through when out for some air, has gone from this

to this
and now this

I have been finding life challenging this year, there has been some pretty stressful stuff going on and my mental health has not been the greatest. Mostly all I manage when it's bad is getting up, dressed and onto my laptop to work. I actually find work a boon, because I have to concentrate on what I'm doing, I don't think about anything else. 
Either that or I read, again I can lose myself in a book, it has always been a coping mechanism for me. The fact I have already read 42 out of the 50 goal I set myself on Goodreads is another clear indication of the state of things.
A far amount of this year I have found it beyond me to do more than the minimum necessary to get through life, so the house is more often than not a tip and the garden going it's own way and things like blogging slip way down the list. 

This isn't a pity party, I'm not looking for the sympathy vote, I am coping and this to will pass. 
It's more that my blog has always been somewhere I have been my authentic self so I wanted to be honest about the downs as well as the ups and the reason I have been AWOL for most of the year. 

The vast majority of the time I am a ridiculously positive person, I genuinely am that person on my blog careering through life buying too many dresses and handbags, and despite things, there have been handbags and dresses in 2022. 

Anyway today I'm doing ok, I am inside because it's too damn hot. I felt like blogging, so I thought a round up of last month would be a good place to start. 

Having just said I am generally a positive person, I certainly was at the start of July just not in a way I would have wanted! 
Like so many other people I know covid finally hit the Magpie household after avoiding it thus far. Himself brought it home from work where it turns out his assistant was positive and kindly carried on coming into the office SIGH. 
I was working from home that day and went out to my Pilates class before he got in. When I got home later that evening he announced he was 'full of cold' I asked if he had done a test and he insisted it was just a cold because he'd tested the day before and was clear. We small debate ensued and he did another test to shut me up, all I heard was 'Oh!' 
Sure enough the second line had appeared. Inevitably I tested positive about a week later. Randomly we had completely different symptoms and time lines. I was negative after 5 days, he was positive for 12. I had a killer headache for a day, then cold symptoms. So a cough and blocked nose but otherwise felt ok. 
However for me it turns out covid is the gift that keeps on giving. Having been clear for over a week and feeling absolutely fine I was out in Oxford for cocktails and pizza with some of the girls from work. As the evening progressed my voice started to go, it was so weird. By the end of the night I was properly croaking, I figured I had been talking and laughing a lot and hopefully it would be fine in the morning. 
Nope, next day the voice had totally gone and I was coughing again. I tested several times over the next few days but was clear each time. It took 10 days for my voice to return and over 2 weeks to stop coughing.Annoyingly  I'm still not completely back up to full energy levels, though I never stopped working, which with hindsight, maybe I should have rested up a bit.

Anyway with my poor croak of a voice I headed into Oxford on the 9th July to meet Charlotte and Alex as  Alex was down from Liverpool for the weekend. We had a lovely morning that started with coffee and a bit of shopping, then lunch at the food market in Gloucester Green. A blissful browse around Blackwells, where I bought too many books and finished with a drink at The Punter pub in Osney Mead, because by then it was just too hot and we needed to be somewhere in the shade. I do have a picture but it's not the most flattering as we all look very hot and disheveled! Alex said she couldn't get used to seeing me speak but not hearing my voice when I did!
On the Sunday I was up and out, back into Oxford again to catch the bus over to Soo's where I met her and our friend Melissa before headed to Yarnton Nurseries for the day. It's one of those huge garden centres with various clothing and homeware franchises, but as an added bonus it also has an antique centre attached. We spent the whole day browsing clothes, books, bedding and ornaments, followed by plants and finally vintage treasures. The only downside being I still didn't have much of a voice and the heat, lordy it was hot that day, though not as hot as it was due to get the following weekend. 

We had actually planned this trip way back on what turned out to be the first Saturday of  lockdown so it really was overdue. 

The following Sunday was my birthday and Mum had booked us all in for Sunday lunch in one of the pubs in her village, such a lovely idea before we realised the temperatures were forecast to be in the 40s!! Thankfully on the day it was only in the early 30s!?! So eating a roast dinner was just about bearable. 
I had the Thursday & Friday before and the Monday after off work. Ever since turning 40 I have made it a rule never to work on my birthday. If it falls on the weekend I will take days around it. 

So on the Thursday Himself and I went to see the latest Thor movie Love and Thunder.
I get why some of the Marvel purists weren't keen, it is a bit of a mess but great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cracking soundtrack of mostly 80's metal was an added bonus. 

On the Friday Mum and I went out to Millets Farm. Another large garden centre, this time one with a pick your own farm, farm shop and petting zoo. Disappointingly the plants stocks were surprisingly poor with many empty shelves.
I bought a bag of ericaceous soil and we both bought an unusual white French lavender but that was it. A bit of a let down really. We had lunch and a wander around the animals who were mostly hiding from the heat, before buying some fresh raspberries and a cake in the farm shop.
We took these with us to visit Dad on the way back. It was lovely to see him, I hadn't dared go when I was possibly contagious and then ill, but it was killer because despite the 30 degree weather they still had the heating on in the care home!?! 

Sunday started with a boiled egg, bucks fizz and pressies, very civilized I must say. Among other things Himself bought me a minitures tasting set of a spiced rum I had spotted when we were on holiday in Kent and wanted to try.
My brother and Caron came round at 12 to pick us up and over to Mum's we went. Sadly my Sunday roast was not the greatest, it was made worse by being smothered in black pepper which I hate, I do wish kitchens wouldn't season food to their own taste, not everyone likes salt and pepper and once it is on you can't take it off. Far better to let people do it themselves at the table. 

We went back to Mum's for pudding and prosecco and cuddles of Bobby the cat. I mostly got birthday money and bought a couple of dresses, both in the ironing pile so for a later blog post, as well as 4 silver chains for some pendants I had without chains.
 I had had a big sort out of my necklaces on a grey Sunday a few weeks before. Cleaning, untangling and rehanging them. I had bought a cheap pin board previously that had warped so used some self adhesive cork tiles to reinforce it, unfortunately the weight of the necklaces had made the top tile fall off resulting in a big old necklace mess. Did I use it as a good time to downsize? maybe by one or two necklaces..otherwise I just reinforced things by edging the tile with gorilla tape! So far so good. 

Monday the 18th Himself was off up North for a week to have a reunion with some of his school and college friends, as well as record some podcast episodes. If you fancy giving it a go you'll find it here The Peggy Mount Calamity Hour (he and his friend critique television shows and films from their childhood so it may not mean a lot if you are in your 30's or younger!) 

Soo was also due to pop in but as it was topping 40 degree that day we postponed it until the evening. She arrived at 7pm when it had cooled to a balmy 32! We stayed inside glued to the fan.

The following Monday was Mum's birthday and my Brother & Caron's 30th wedding anniversary. We collected Dad from his care home at noon to find Mum had forgotten the only key to the motor for his wheelchair! Thankfully the mobility shop we bought it from was en route to our lunch venue and downhill so we wheeled Dad there and managed to buy a couple of spares. 
Nephew Number One was also able to come along so we had a lovely family lunch of pizza and ice cream, and a good catch up of all his news. Dad was in his element tucking into a spicy pizza, the food at his care home is not the most adventurous and he has always been a foodie bless him.

Himself and I finished the month with a 6 mile walk and dinner at a local pub. I'm frustrated at not being back up to full energy levels after covid, though I suspect the heat doesn't help either. I took myself out for a walk a couple of weeks ago and thankfully stuck to a shorter route because by 4 miles I was suddenly exhausted. 
Everything is so brown right now, we haven't had rain for many many weeks.

We are still walking when we can, and as you know I like an incentive. I have just finished a 476 mile challenge called India - The Golden Triangle, chosen because the medal had a tiger on the back! I'm now on a Pirates of The Caribbean trek again for the very cool medal.

I shall finish with the compilation of pictures Himself made for me from our recent walks out. He came to realise that I can't possibly pass a cat by without saying hello to it, and after many such occasions he started taking pictures whilst he was waiting for me to finish my feline salutation.
I hopeful more normal service will be resumed blogwise. handbags, frocks and outings to follow.  

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Vikings and Pilgrims or East Kent Coast Holiday Part Two.

 Tuesday dawned another glorious sunny day so we were down early to have breakfast before taking a stroll down to the harbour as we had a walk planned for the day and Himself wanted to start and end it on a pier. 

We began on the little pier in Broadstairs and walked The Viking Way, which is part of the coastal path, to Margate.

We started down on the beach where a random lobster pot had washed up much to the confusion and excitement of the various dogs being walked. It was a lovely gentle beginning and then we reached this deceptively easy looking path up to the clifftop. 

Trust me it just kept going and going up and up, my lungs felt like they were going to explode by the time we got there.   

Once on the clifftop you walk for a while through a gated community which for a nosy cow like me was great fun, getting to peer at all these huge houses with their landscaped gardens.

Who needs Durdle Door when you have Botany Bay at Kingsgate? 

Apparently it's a great place to find fossils and I really wanted to go down to the beach to hunt for some, but we had timed entry tickets for the Turner Comtemporary in Margate so were against the clock. Maybe next time.

We entered Margate and passed the now sadly quite derelict Lido. The underground music venue at the Lido was where we first meet when I went to see Himself's band playing, and according to Himself, where I picked him up at the bar!

It's so sad to see the state it is in and I hope the campaign to save it is as successful as the one that saved Dreamland, Margate's other historic & famous landmark. Hopefully they will bring it back to life in some way, probably not to the degree of the picture below but hopefully something somehow.


We made it to the end of the pier in Margate with just 5 minutes to spare, but I just had to take a picture of the amazing sculpture of Mrs Booth the artist J M Turner's landlady and mistress.

 I was absolutely roasting in my jacket by the time we hared up the steps and into the gallery. Goodness knows what possessed me to wear one on such a sunny day. 

The gallery was much smaller than I thought it would be so it didn't take long to walk around. I was quite disappointed if I'm honest. Once we were done we headed into the old town to our favourite cafe for a much needed drink. 

Margate really is a town of two halves. The Old Town or Market Place is busy and bustling with shops, galleries and cafes. The beaches look great now the sea walls have been renovated and of course Dreamland's rebirth is a triumph. The high street however is heartbreaking to see now, rundown and pretty much completely empty. 

We mooched about a bit reminiscing before heading to the station to catch a train back to Broadstairs as we had an early dinner booking. 

It turned out they were shooting part of a Sam Mendes film with Colin Firth and Olivia Coleman at Dreamland so it was temporarily renamed The Empire and cordoned off. They have also been filming in Oxford so I will definitely be checking it out when it reaches the cinema.

Once back at our hotel we freshened up and headed out for dinner at Posillipo a gorgeous little family run Italian restaurant, I had the most delicious gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese. From there we nipped to Tesco to buy some beer and wine and as it was now pouring with rain jumped in a cab to visit our friends Paul and Claire. 

In that mad random way life has it turned out our taxi driver was not only born in Abingdon, the nearest town to us, he went to school in the town where we live! 

It was an early visit because Paul was heading to Belfast in the early hours of the morning so we were back at the hotel before 10pm.

Our final day we had decided to visit Canterbury, it's a beautiful city and somewhere we often used to go to for the day when we were dating.  Indeed it was somewhere we considered moving to when we were first looking to move in together.

Again it was very much about revisiting memories as well as seeing what has changed. One of my favourite shops there Merchant Chandler had sadly gone, but another Siesta was still there. We had a lovely browse I bought myself a carved wooden moon wall hanging, a Mexican wooden day of the dead owl ornament and some earrings. Himself bought a bongo drum. I browsed the charity shops and the vintage shop I used to visit but didn't find anything to buy. 

We had planned to go to the cathedral but half of it was closed for renovation and there was a huge queue outside so we decided to give it a miss.

We decided to go for a drink instead and found a great little rock pub called The Lady Luck. Refreshed by a bottle or two of Newcastle Brown we had a look in a few more shops and just wandered about in the glorious sunshine before finding somewhere to eat dinner.

I was so stuffed after eating that instead of finding a pub as he wanted, I made Himself go for a walk along the river.  

I thought this tree was incredible in a mad does my bum look big in this kind of way 

and by chance we found this bull sculpture by the ring road as we headed back towards the station.

We arrived back in Broadstairs just in time to catch the sun setting and reflecting on the sea bathing pool. We had such a great day.

We were going to go to a few pubs but after a drink in The Chapel we both realised how tired we were and called it a night.

So that was our trip down memory lane holiday and I have to say it di the pair of us the power of good. 

Sunday, 1 May 2022

A Good Sea – Fresh Breezes – Fine Sands – and Pleasant Walks.

 Hello and thank you for sticking with me despite many silent months. Let's just say life has been challenging, especially at work. On top of the insane workload I got a new line manager in January who shall we say turned out to not be so nice. My mental health suffered as a consequence, some days it was all I could do to just get up and get through it. I couldn't even muster the energy for my lunchtime walk, let alone do things like pilates or my shoulder exercises so yeah the waistline has expanded again and I'm definitely stiff and the shoulder less mobile...

However me deciding I needed to take myself in hand coincided with a long overdue holiday and a very welcome and completely unexpected shift around with the team (meaning I have been moved away from the not so nice team leader) and I finally feel like blogging again.

The post title is a quote from Charles Dickens about Broadstairs where we spent the week before Easter. Dickens loved Broadstairs and lived there at one time. There is a Dickens museum, Bleak House and various other shops, restaurants and pubs with themed names as well as the Dickens festival they hold here each year.

 Himself declared a while ago that he would like to go back to Thanet. Preferably staying in Broadstairs, somewhere we both love and he used to work, and do some of the fun things we used to do before his parents ill health made every visit duty or drama. I kept it in mind and found a fab deal on Travelzoo for 3 nights in a very nice B&B to use before March 2022. We decided to ring up and see if we could tack another night on, we could but there were no free weeks in March so I ended up paying an extra £8 to extend the voucher and chose the 1st free dates they had in April. These surprisingly turned out to be the week before Easter when I would have expected them to be busy? 

I had a bit of a problem booking and had to ring back 4 times, the owner was always too busy to speak to me before I finally rang and spoke to the other owner on my 4th attempt. He greeted me with "I don't usually do room bookings but as you've called a few times already I'll pop it in, I suppose you'd like a sea view?" to which I casually replied "Oh well yes if we can?, if there's one free?" and just like that we were booked in to a room with a balcony, a turret and a sea view! 

Now I knew the voucher deal clearly stated it was for a non sea view and so did the first owner who finally called me back only to be told we were all booked in, let's just say he did not sound too pleased and which is why presumably he doesn't usually let his partner loose on the bookings! 

Check in was at 4pm so we got up, had a leisurely breakfast before catching the train to London. We left in the rain but arrived to glorious sunshine. The B&B was up a hill overlooking the sea, and on arrival we were greeted by the owner's utterly adorable and very excitable 14 week old soft haired terrier pup Lula. Who then proceeded to climb all over us and pulled undone the laces on my walking boots 3 times in as many minutes. Check in took some time due to the enthusiastic canine welcome but eventually we escaped to our room right at the top of the house. It turns out room didn't have a turret, it was the turret! So both being tall, we spent the whole 4 days having to duck a lot but the sea view was lovely.

Sadly the balcony turned out to be a Juliet one, ie just bars across some double doors that opened into the room so no chance to sit out 

but it did give a welcome cool breeze as the turret room got very hot. Indeed the first thing we did once we had put our bags down and taken our coats off was open all the windows as the room was roasting.

Once we had done a cursory unpack we headed straight into town to walk along the clifftop promenade, calling in at Morelli's Broadstairs famous ice cream parlour on our way. The weather was so gorgeous we just kept going and  walked along the clifftop all the way to Ramsgate and back. 

We then got changed and ended up having a very disappointing dinner at Prezzo as we hadn't thought to book anywhere. From there Himself couldn't wait to show me a pub called The Chapel which he had visited with his friend the last time he was down visiting.

Now back in the day when we used to go for a mooch around Broadstairs for the day, Himself liked to call into the Albion bookshop, he properly loved it. As a librarian I used to hyperventilate just going through the door. Everything was in mad precarious piles and nothing, NOTHING was in order!! Even though there were headings for different sections everything was randomly shoved wherever there was a gap so nothing was where it should be. I'm practically coming out in hives just remembering it! 

Anyway I'm guessing the old guy who owned it either died or gave it up and it clearly got sold as a going concern. Someone very cleverly decided to turn it into a little pub clearing out some of the central bookshelves and putting in a bar and some tables downstairs but leaving the rest just as it was. They left the bookshelves round the walls upstairs and just put more tables between them.

The very dark picture is mine and the better lit one I've pinched off the internet so you can see it in all it's glory. The choice of beer, cider, spirits and wine was great and you could select random books from the shelves and read. We spent the rest of the evening there drinking and killing ourselves laughing  reading random excerpts to each other from such weighty tomes as the one below.

The next morning we were up early for breakfast. There had been some confussion as to whether we were going to get breakfast as the Travelzoo voucher said we did but the hotel said we didn't unless booked direct...Anyway I managed to sort that before we arrived so once breakfasted we headed out into another gloriously sunny day to mooch around the shops and see what was still there and what had changed. The old design shop Himself used to work in is now a chiropracters of all things.

  I was delighted to see Arrowsmiths was still there, it's a sort of gift emporium.The first time I ever visited my sister in Ramsgate we went for a browse and I got a t-shirt saying 'Away with the Fairies' from there. I have no idea what happened to it, I'd definitely still wear it now. The only time I can get Himself in a charity shop is when we are on holiday so I took full advantage and made him visit them all, and there are a lot, on our way to the train station.

Our destination for the day was Whitstable. Himself worked there for many years and I visited him there at the shop a few times as well as having a couple of nights out at The Neptune pub.

 Walking from the train station to the town centre you pass this amazing mural commemorating Peter Cushing who lived in Whitstable and adored it there. The local Wetherspoons is even named after him.

We spent a lovely few hours just mooching, again seeing what has changed and what hasn't. It was super busy but then it has been the chi-chi destination for all the DFLs (as the locals call them) for many years now. We browsed whatever shops took our fancy, then bought an ice cream and walked along the seashore which seems to be mostly owned by the local oyster company.

They have converted some of the single room beach/fishing huts into extremely bijou holiday lets. I dread to think how much they cost.

We were done by mid-afternoon so we headed back to Broadstairs and as the weather was so gorgeous found an outside table at The Pavillion. 

Is there anything better than drinking crisp cold wine or beer, sitting on a balcony over the beach looking at the sea? My worries were a million miles away that afternoon I can tell you, but as we had evening plans we couldn't stay all evening tempting as it was.

I was heading out to meet my friend Kay and Himself was catching up with his old boss. So we headed back to our room to freshen up and I caught the bus over to Ramsgate. I can't tell you how lovely it was to catch up with Kay, we have been friends for 30 year's now having met through a friend of my sister one night and just clicked. We only managed to grab a couple of hours when I was last down for Himself's Dad's funeral and otherwise it's been the odd email and letter here and there. Kay works in social care and for a mental health charity, and well, I'm sure you can imagine just how ridiculously busy she has been during the last couple of years. I genuinely do not know how she does what she does, I take my hat off to her. She truly is an incredible and beautiful soul. 

We had a wonderful catch up with dinner and more wine for me and gin for her, in the massive Wetherspoons in Ramsgate It's the biggest in the country and on the ground floor has doors that open right onto the beach. Sadly the time to head back came much to soon.Thankfully Himself met me at the bus stop in Broadstairs which was a good job really otherwise I'd still be trying to figure where I was now!

I'll share the rest of our holiday in my next post. Thank you again for staying with me.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

The Rest of 2021

 So where was I? November. 

November was an odd month, after more than 2 years at home I was back into work for two days a week. We were told one day would be an 'anchor day' when the whole team had to be in together and the other we could choose. Tuesday was the anchor day for our team so I chose either a Monday or Wednesday alongside it, as I figured I'd rather go in on consecutive days and kind of get it out of the way. 

We no longer have a desk, we have been told it's all about flexible working and hot desking. Which is fine for those travelling to work with a car, not so much so for those of us who walk, cycle or use public transport as you end up having to carry everything you might possibly need for the day. 

In my case that was laptop, charger, mouse, mousemat, work phone, own phone, notebooks, paper, pens and other stationary, 2 pairs of glasses, water bottle, tea mug, teabags, lunch, book. All that alongside my handbag. You get the picture! So we are now fighting to have a locker or set of drawers so we can leave things behind like when we used to have a desk.  

Other than that it was lovely to be back with the rest of the team around me, to be able to talk in person and all of that, but also strangely difficult to concentrate and actually get work done after so long working from home without people and phones and just general noise. The early start for the commute to Oxford was a shock to the system too, not going to lie.

For a bit of fun we had done a Great British Bake Off sweep stake.

We all put in £5 and got a contestant. The week after your contestant went out, you had to make or fake something for the theme of the week they were voted out. I had Amanda and went out on pastry week. So I made mince pies as well as apple or jam turnovers because not everyone likes mince pies, and chocolate whirls with the left over pastry. It was a bit more challenging for us all as like the show itself, one of our team is vegan so we all had to think of a way to make our bakes vegan friendly.

 Little did we know that by the time we got to my week that would be the end of us going into work again. Omicron reared it's ugly head and the University of Oxford was identified as a hot spot so that was us back to working from home again, and I have been ever since.   

Other than that I did a couple of fun things in November. I met Soo and our friend Melissa in Witney. I haven't seen Melissa for well over 2 years now. In fact we were due to have a day out on that very first Saturday of the 1st lockdown so it was long overdue. We had a fab day catching up on all the gossip (and boy was there some - another friend had eloped!) went to a craft fair, had a long lazy lunch and a little Christmas shopping got done too.

I also went to the cinema a couple of times with Himself. First to see Ghostbusters Afterlife which was amazing 

and later to see Spiderman No Way Home which I did not enjoy so much. It was horribly busy as we went on the first night and full of youngsters, hardly any of whom were wearing a mask. I was particularly edgy because I was well overdue for my booster jab, I just hadn't been able to get a slot booked.   

Thankfully we tested negative after that and I haven't been back to the cinema since.

I finally managed to get a booster jab booked for the 14th December at Boots in Oxford. I also finally managed to get another face to face physio appointment at the end of November. This time in the nearby town of Wallingford. I took the bus over and mooched about for a bit before walking to the community hospital where luckily for me and the bus timetable, the person before me had cancelled. That meant I got in early and therefore managed to get out in time for an earlier bus rather than having an hour to wait. The physiotherapist was pleased with my progress, he said I am 95% there, though he did also point out the last 5% is the hardest! I came away with some new exercises which he made me practice to  make sure I was doing them right and has put me on a 6 month retainer. So if I feel I'm not right, or it gets worse again in the next 6 months, I can book another appointment. Overall very good news.

On the 18th December I met Alex and Charlotte in Oxford to have a catch up and go to the Christmas market. Due to various reasons none of us were feeling particularly festive but I have to say by the end of the day we all starting to feel it a bit. 

I love this outtake picture, I think somebody walked up behind me?

We had lunch at the open food market in Gloucester Green before walking to Jericho and stopping at The Victoria pub for mulled wine and prosecco which may or may not have added to the festive spirit. The pub had an open fire, a real Christmas tree as well as loads of real pine swags, it smelt amazing. 

It was so lovely to see them both.  Alex was due to leave Birmingham that week and moved to Liverpool this week so I'm not sure when we will get together again - boo.

For Christmas the plan was to liberate Dad from his care home on the 24th and take him to my brother's house for a buffet. My sister in law Caron's parents were going to be there too, though sadly Nephew Number One was working so we dropped their presents off on the 21st. My Mum was then going to drive over on Christmas day to have lunch with my brother and his in laws and stay the night there, then on boxing day Himself and I were going to go home with her for a couple of days.

Unfortunately on the 22nd Caron tested positive so plans were cancelled. Thankfully we hadn't told Dad about it just in case, and luckily we were able to convert to a care home visit. Annoyingly the office hadn't let his floor know so the staff had got him all dressed up and told him about his visit. He was bewildered and really very upset when it didn't happen which was frankly bloody awful. I was so pissed off with yet another fuck up but let's not go there! And breathe.

Soo popped by for a couple of hours on Christmas eve to exchange pressies and have a quick catch up and Himself had a long zoom call with one of his oldest friends who due to restrictions was stuck in a hotel in Munich with just 4 other guests for company! 

So yes, Christmas plans changed and we ended up going over to Mum's on Christmas day at about 2pm and staying until the 27th. 

Before that we had a lie-in, followed by boiled eggs for breakfast, before cracking open some buck's fizz and opening our pressies. Mum had found a chicken in the freezer so when we got to hers we prepped the veg and opened more fizz and had chicken and roast veggies for Christmas lunch with trifle for pudding. I have to say we were all fine with that as none of us is actually a huge fan of turkey. 

We had a hugely lazy time, sleeping, reading, doing jigsaws and playing with Bobby the cat. He was actually surprisingly friendly this time round and even jumped onto the bed for cuddles by the second morning.  

We did go out for a couple of walks but as we got fed to within an inch of our lives I don't think they achieved much other than some fresh air.

I also crafted. I got given a kit to make 3 felt bauble decorations. Of course me being me, I bought more felt and made loads. In fact I'm still am making some as I cut out a load, I will admit I've loved it, coming up with my own designs has been fun .

As ever I got some fab presents.

can you tell I like Snoopy??

More books to add to the book mountain. 

Talking of books I'll finish with my Goodreads list of books read in 2021. As you can see there are a couple of sets. I reread A Discovery of Witches and then read the rest of the series. Charlotte had warned me they got worse and worse as the series progressed and sadly she wasn't wrong. The last one was dreadful.

The Nicola Upson ones were a set of 5 from my book club, I then bought the rest of the set. Weirdly I loved some of them and some were just 'meh'.

The Elly Griffiths books were due to me buying one for 50p in a charity shop, absolutely loving it and finding it was number seven in a series. So of course I had to buy the rest of the set! 

I loved them all and actually feel a bit bereft now I have finished them. 

Tombland- C J Sansom
The Peanuts Book – A visual history of the iconic comic strip –Simon Beecroft
The American Boy – Andrew Taylor
The Familiars – Stacey Halls
Grown Ups – Marian Keyes
The Corset – Laura Purcell
A Single Thread – Tracey Chevalier
The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah
Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle - Clare Hunter
A Year at the Chateau – Dick Strawbridge
The Natural Beauty of Cornwall - Peter Maxted
Birds of a Feather – Jacqueline Winspear
Art Deco Fashion – Gordon Kerr
The Secret History of the Handbag – Meredith Etherington-Smith
Liberty & Co in the Fifties and Sixties – Anne Buruma
Seeing Things: An Autobiography – Oliver Postgate
Amphibious Thing: The Life or Lord Hervey – Lucy Moore
Girl Balancing & Other Stories – Helen Dunmore
The Kid on Slapton Beach – Felicity Fair Thompson
It’s so Easy (and other lies) – Duff McKagan
How to be a Man – Duff Mckagan
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
Invisible Girl – Lisa Jewell
The Binding – Bridget Collins
The Guest List – Lucy Foley
The Ghost Fields - Elly Griffiths
A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night – Deborah Harkness
A Book of Life – Deborah Harkness
Eight Detectives – Alex Pavesi
The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
Times Convert – Deborah Harkness
A Expert in Murder – Nicola Upson
Angel with Two Faces – Nicola Upson
The Janus Stone – Elly Griffiths
Two for Sprrow – Nicola Upson
Fear of Sunlight – Nicola Upson
The Death of Lucy Kyte – Nicola Upson
London Rain – Nicola Upson
Nine Lessons – Nicola Upson
Sorry for the Dead – Nicola Upson
The House at Sea’s End – Elly Griffiths
Bandaging the Blitz – Phyll McDonald- Ross
A Room Full of Bones – Elly Griffiths
Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham – Emily Bingham
A Dying Fall – Elly Griffiths
The Mistress of Mayfair – Lindsey Spence
The Outcast Dead – Elly Griffiths
Surviving Tenko: The Story of Margot Turner – Penny Starns
The Woman in Blue – Elly Griffiths
The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe – Sarah Churchwell
The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths
The Dark Angel – Elly Griffiths
The Stone Circle – Elly Griffiths
The Lantern Men – Elly Griffiths
The Night Hawks – Elly Griffiths

Overall I read more books that I enjoyed this year and ranked lots of them 3 or 4 though surprisingly no 5's at all this year. I was clearly being tough this year.